2002 St. Augustine Photos II

All images on this page 2002 by Christina Young.

Welcome to the dive boat Independence, a 33-foot BHM that cruises at up to 25 knots.  This boat is especially outfitted for deep wreck diving expeditions far offshore.

The USS St. Augustine (PG-54) was originally built as a 272-foot, luxurious, pleasure yacht in 1929, and served two different wealthy owners under the names SS Viking and SS Noparo.  She was sold to the US Navy in 1940 and converted to a gunboat for coastal defense and convoy escort duties along the eastern seaboard.  She was instrumental in the sinking of the U-701, even though she didn't sink it directly.  In January of 1944, while escorting a convoy of just a single ship off Delaware (along with two other coast guard escort vessels) to Key West in a gale, the blacked-out, Trinidad-bound tanker Camas Meadows (not part of the convoy) struck her on the starboard side.  The St. Augustine sank in 250 feet of frigid, rough seas within four minutes of the collision, killing 115 of her 145-man crew.

A most excellent and extensive account of the history and sinking of the St. Augustine can be found in Gary Gentile's just-released 2nd edition of Shipwrecks of Delaware and Maryland ( 2002 Gary Gentile).  Also see the NavSource entry for this ship.

The following pictures (all images from video) are from the voyage of the Independence from Cape May, New Jersey, to the St. Augustine on Wednesday, July 3, 2002 (continued from Page I).

A large net covers a big portion of the stern.
Looking up at the stern superstructure.
And again.
Swimming back along the starboard stern towards the bow.
The debris field near the center of the wreck.
These are the beams in the main deck that it is possible to slip through to get to the decks below.
We are back at the anchor line.
Looking back down at the wreck on our way to our first deco stop.
On our way back into the harbor, Frankie inspects the Cape May fishing fleet.
Back at the dock, a seagull tries to break open a crab for dinner by continuously picking it up and dropping it.

I hope you have enjoyed these pictures of our trip to the picturesque St. Augustine.  Stay tuned for more fascinating wrecks!

Back to 2002 St. Augustine Photos I

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